Montana State Legislator Faces Felony Counts in Rehberg Accident

Posted October 7, 2009 at 3:28pm

Montana state Sen. Greg Barkus (R) faces three felony charges for his role in the Aug. 27 boat crash that injured Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) and left one of Rehberg’s staffers in a weeklong coma.Prosecutors claim that Barkus was driving the boat while intoxicated, citing a test taken almost two hours after the incident that showed his blood alcohol level at more than twice the legal limit.The charges are criminal endangerment, negligent vehicular assault and negligent vehicular assault. Each carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.Rehberg has said he had less than two beers before getting into the boat. In a statement Wednesday, he said he was “surprised to learn the results of Greg’s blood alcohol test.—“He didn’t appear to be impaired to me when we got on the boat for the return trip to Bigfork,— Rehberg said. “There is, of course, a presumption of innocence in our system of justice and the charges made today by the prosecutors are now in the hands of the Court. I’ll continue to provide whatever information I can to the authorities.—Dustin Frost, Rehberg’s state director, sustained the most serious injuries — a skull fracture and brain trauma — from the accident along the rocky shores of Flathead Lake, Mont. He regained consciousness last month and was released from the hospital Sept. 18. He has been undergoing extensive physical therapy to regain memory and address hearing loss and facial nerve damage.